It is an incredibly dishonest statement

KB Player wrote a post yesterday about a correspondence she had with Amnesty International UK.

I’m a member of Amnesty International and wrote expressing my concern about their association with CAGE.  I got this reply back:-

Amnesty International UK’s Director Kate Allen, said

“Amnesty no longer considers it appropriate to share a public platform with Cage and will not engage in coalitions of which Cage is a member. Recent comments made by Cage representatives have been completely unacceptable, at odds with human rights principles and serve to undermine the work of NGOs, including Amnesty International.”

But don’t go thinking they’re accepting that Gita Sahgal was right. Oh no. They’re not doing that.

At the time that Gita Sahgal left Amnesty International, we commissioned an independent external review into our work with Cage and Moazzam Begg which concluded that it was reasonable for Amnesty to campaign with Cage and Moazzam Begg in his capacity as a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay.

Gita’s view was that it was inappropriate for Amnesty International to share a platform with individuals and organisations whose religious or political views were inconsistent with the full range of rights and women’s rights in particular.  Amnesty International has never questioned the integrity of this view or the sincerity with which Gita held it. However, it is not uncommon for NGOs to enter into coalitions with other organisations or groups on one specific issue despite their disagreement on others.

Yes, but an organization like Amnesty which is fundamentally about rights and freedoms should not work with a group that is about taking them away from various kinds of people.

Based on an extensive review of comments made by Cage Prisoners (as it was then known) then available to the public, we concluded that limited cooperation with Cage on the narrow issue of accountability for UK complicity in torture abroad was appropriate, given their consistent and credible messaging on this issue.

Comments made by Cage recently have clearly changed that assessment and have led to our decision to terminate such relations. But this does not alter the fact the decision in 2010 to continue this limited work was taken for good reasons and after extensive reflection.

Yes it does. That’s exactly what it does. You should have been able to see then what you see now. Your reasons for not seeing it then, and for kicking Gita out, were not good reasons. They were bad reasons.

Further to that, the refusal of a Cage spokesperson to condemn violence such as FGM and stoning – themselves examples of torture and degrading treatment that we are campaigning for an end to – is of huge concern to Amnesty and has made any future platform sharing with Cage impossible.

And should have done so five years ago.

KB continues:

Many have pointed out that CAGE hasn’t changed since 2010, and that Amnesty is being disingenuous in suddenly finding them an unfit partner because of unwelcome publicity.  A comment on Shiraz:

The reply by Amnesty’s Kate Allen contains a contradiction in terms. While she is affirming that it isn’t uncommon for NGOs to enter into coalitions with other organisations or groups on one specific issue despite their disagreement on others, nevertheless now Amnesty is severing ties with CAGE over their views on violence and torture including FGM and stoning. Which one of the two Amnesty holds true – that their partners’ views on ‘other issues’ such as violence does not matter or that do matter? If they do matter now, how can Amnesty explain those views didn’t matter back in 2010 and they considered it perfectly normal to share a platform with CAGE. They either have to admit a gross incompetence and issue an apology to Gita Sahgal (though this is going to be difficult because Gita Sahgal warned them about CAGE’s views) or admit they acted in bad faith and hoped nobody will notice – in this case too, they at least have to issue an apology to Gita Sahgal.

Gita left the first comment.

Yes it is good that they chucked Cage, However, it is an incredibly dishonest statement. When did they do the extensive review of Cageprisoners? When they did their inquiry, the inquiry did not investigate Begg or Cageprisoners. They will climb into bed with the next set of Islamists. In fact, they already have.

And another, replying to comments saying Amnesty should put out a statement.

They don’t do public statements. I put out the agreed statement on my leaving. They hoped it would go away. They are shoddy as well as dishonest. Thank you for getting this from them. It is excellent that you made it public.

Well done KB.


  1. chrislawson says

    This is really quite extraordinary and it led to me letting my AI membership lapse. I was thinking of rejoining, but not after this. What AI has refused to understand about all this is that they did not need any partnership at all with CAGE in the first place. All AI needed to do was give a channel for the CAGE prisoners tell their stories of abuse. You can stand up for their right to humane treatment and fair legal process without going anywhere near supporting their political advocacy.

  2. PatrickG says

    You can stand up for their right to humane treatment and fair legal process without going anywhere near supporting their political advocacy.

    Ah, but then you’d probably be an Islamaphobe! Might even get an award!

  3. says

    When Gita says they already have “climb[ed] into bed with the next set of Islamists”, does anyone know what she’s referring to? I don’t doubt it, I’m just curious to know more.

  4. says

    Thanks for reposting this OB. I can’t log on to your comments thread under my moniker.

    I had some earlier thoughts that there had been entryism into Amnesty from the far left and Islamist loving SWP (UK not American), which I blogged about here.

    It’s only rumours and Amnesty may just be suffering from the blindness towards the Fascism de nos jours of other progressive organisations.

    For instance, their statement on the Danish cartoons (I saw a cache of this but can’t find it & can only link to blogs who quote it):-

    in the wake of the flap over Danish cartoons showing images of Muhammad, the organization issued the following statement:

    The right to freedom of opinion and expression should be one of the cornerstones of any society. . . .

    However, the right to freedom of expression is not absolute — neither for the creators of material nor their critics. It carries responsibilities and it may, therefore, be subject to restrictions in the name of safeguarding the rights of others. In particular, any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence cannot be considered legitimate exercise of freedom of expression. Under international standards, such “hate speech” should be prohibited by law.

    AI calls on the government officials and those responsible for law enforcement and the administration of justice to be guided by these human rights principles in their handling of the current situation.

    If anyone wants background on Gita Sahgal, Cage & Amnesty this is a good piece:-

  5. says

    Thanks for writing it, Rosie!

    Oh gawd that’s disgusting about the Motoons. I wonder if I blogged about that at the time – I remember doing endless “and this one” posts on all the people and groups who should have known better saying those horrible things, but I have a feeling I missed Amnesty’s contribution.

  6. says

    The Ed Brayton piece is very good. It’s strange seeing the same tunes of respect, with speech comes responsibility, played out again over Charlie Hebdo – nearly 10 years on.

  7. says

    Isn’t it though. I’m reading some of my posts from February 2006 and marveling that it’s 9 years later and people are still talking the same shite.

  8. quixote says

    It’s funny, meaning pathetic, how convenient shite never dies. The blather about shutting down free speech out of “respect” kills three birds with one stone:

    1) You get to pat yourself on the back for not being a Racist Islamophobe™.

    2) You get to wave around your I Support Free Speech™ card.

    3) You don’t need to run any risks actually applying free speech.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *